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Serious bead habit

January 11, 2014

Kristina from decorartuk once again inspired me by her recent post on beading. She’s made some lovely woven bracelets.

classic bead loom

classic bead loom

It must be in the air, or telepathy, but I was thinking of taking out my bead loom again and weaving some new seed bead bracelets.  Beading has long been a hobby of mine, and when it comes to buying new colours I’m a serious addict. A past post shows the harvest from the last bead fair I visited, plus some projects I was working on at the time. I’ll post a few of those pictures again here.

fun at the bead fair

fun at the bead fair

Mostly tending towards blues, purples and aubergines

Mostly tending towards blues, purples and aubergines

Happy beading K, here are some of my past creations, I’ll post my new ones when I start on them.

woven beaded bracelets, worn regularly 2-3 at a time

woven beaded bracelets, worn regularly 2-3 at a time

flock of felt birdies

flock of felt birdies

Crafty corner time! (Goodness, however will I keep up my image as a professional designer and serious painter by showing my small handmades?) Well, not my problem, I don’t see them as separate from my other work.

This group is sold out. I’ve found that selling works for me if it is to my immediate friends and other small local circles, like classes etc.

I wanted to share part of the process of making these little sweeties because it is something that evolved while working on these and might be fun or helpful for others.

During all my hand work projects I always felt bad about the waste of little bits of pure wool felt, silken embroidery threads and snippets of wool and acrylic yarns. I kept as many scraps as possible, but inevitably the tiniest pieces would get thrown away. Well, I just started putting them in a jar because the colours made me feel happy. And when they accumulated, the penny dropped, and whoopee, I discovered I  had ready-made stuffing for my brooches.

Here is my worktable surface, it pleases me how harmonious the colours of the washi tapes, scraps and Papaya mailing stickers are, oh and the crochet work in the background. I tend to stick to these kinds of warm pastels. Far left you can see my scrap collection jar.

tabletop

tabletop

work surface

Here is bluebird in the process of getting his innards.

getting filled

getting filled

And here he is ready to send to Sandy, my dear friend in Canada who will be his new mom.

‘Tweet’ (remember when that used to mean, bird word)!?

Bluebird with fancy toes

Bluebird with fancy toes

We’ve forgotten what a hobby was.  It was sewing, crafting, drawing, for the pleasure of it alone.

Maybe once in awhile a friend or neighbour offered to buy our latest crochet project for a little money.  We made things in our spare time at our own tempo. We kept making stuff which got given away or sold for a charity or sold so we could buy more supplies. It was a natural cycle of enjoyment, energy invested and a kind of gentle return on that. Sometimes it involved money, but it was about appreciation as well, and exchanging new techniques or materials with others.

Now every human with two hands and a knitting needle has dollar signs in her eyes it seems. Our society’s obsession with business has invaded even this homely domain. Now our knitter makes a ‘product’. In order to sell, she needs a logo, a label, a website, an Etsy store. She needs to be a good photographer to take images of her work to promote it. She must work the social sites, keep up with her Etsy contacts to make sure her work gets featured on others’ blogs, keep up with her networking. She needs to fill orders, set up an online payment system. She needs to become a good postal worker and get her products in the mail on time. The administration has to be done well and regularly. And soon she has to face it- she isn’t a knitter anymore, she is a retailer or depending on the product, a wholesaler. Her arm is hurting from staying up doing all that knitting to fill orders. Should she hire someone to do the drudge work?

Good grief, people. Keep your hobbies hobbies!  Keep part of yourself off line and out of the marketplace.

Here is my latest creation from my hobby of crocheting- fully copied from delightful Lucie’s generously shared instructions.

And it is so not for sale.

Decorative birdie

Decorative birdie

Oh,  but if you are interested, let’s see, it took around 5 hours, at 35 euros an hour- that will be 175 euros, thanks.

And, no, I can’t make 12 more.

I treated myself to some new yarns, I love the heathery colours, or sky tinted sea pebble colours. I am missing a dusty pink shade which exists in my head but not in this particular yarn, though.  After a productive workday, I went out on the deck to crochet some granny squares. Not the most original, but relaxing. I just love how the skeins look like big squishy eggs in their nest. And with Lucie there as well and the horses in the background, on a quiet summer’s day, that about sums up my idea of heaven.

Will post some of the squares another time. I love my crafts, but I’m not your next Emma Lamb. I love those sites, Emma’s, dottie angel’s, and the Pinterest crochet crowd, but I just dabble  when the spirit moves me. And I find that despite all good resolutions, I eventually tense up and have to watch out I don’t get obsessive. And besides, all that sitting isn’t good for me. I don’t know how some of them do it, well, they are all dears in their 30’s, bless ’em. But if I had to produce this stuff as a product, to a deadline, it would immediately kill all the enjoyment for me. My rate is about 2 squares a day, I’m working toward a realistic goal of a cushion cover- about 25 small squares.

The local paper had an article about the new yarn shop where I bought my wool, and the workshops and knitting evenings there. The title was , ‘Knitting, Chocolate for the soul’.  I agree. And I love the community aspect coming into it now.

Paper houses

June 27, 2013

paper houses 1

paper houses          photo Rende Zoutewelle

I had the painting on the landing outside my studio, and when I cleaned up my drawing table, I put the little paper houses there temporarily for lack of a better place.

I kept passing this little composition enjoying how the painting and sculptures complemented each other, meaning to take a picture.

Evidently Rende had been thinking the same thing. I’m so glad he did it. His photo has all the poetry I’d imagined, and I doubt I would have been able to capture it as well as he has.

More about paper houses here.

Bead feed

May 18, 2012

When I’m at ease, free of deadlines,  then before too long, the craft supplies come out.

The annual bead and jewelry fair was in Groningen last weekend, I thought I held back fairly well.  In one stall, there were about 400 (!)colours of size 11 seed beads to choose from! Here is a portion of my purchases, filling in the pink, hot red colurways. And a beautiful range of sage greens, metallic and frosted forest greens, as well as some misty greys and pearls.

fun at the bead fair

And below is a part of my existing seed bead collection.

Mostly tending towards blues, purples and aubergines

And what do I do when I’m let loose on all these gorgeous materials? Below, Evelyn’s necklace in progress.

Multi-strand necklace in progress

My aunt wears a lot of beiges and pastels. My sense of the colours was an antique, cameo feeling, soft golds and ochres, and shell purple and dusty pinks. I finished the multi-strand, then including some hand blown glass beads from Eastern Europe, made a separate strand to wear with it or separately.

Finished necklaces

Here below is my current project, inspired by bracelets I saw at the stall where I got my seed beads, for Dutch readers, Monique’s website is definitely worth a visit. I purchased the directions from her, I”ve never done this particular type of beadwork before and am enjoying the meditative work of threading this (late) mother’s day gift for my mother-in-law.

Some of the bracelets on display were fairly bling bling qua colour, I chose smokey blues, greys and irridescent blacks instead.

Tanny’s bracelet in progress

Detail

Check out this blog post by keri smith on creativity and success. I thought it was a gem. She touches on things close to my own heart, it’s just nice to hear them said by someone else.

Lemons

February 20, 2012

White bowl

I was having a discussion with Kristina and sandi (from ‘sandi’s bottles’ fame)  about lemons in paintings. And how, for me, avocados and those dark purple plums hold the same appeal, especially when combined with that luminous lemon yellow.

The painting above was one of the first oil paintings I did after seeing the Elizabeth Blackadder show last August, and it was the first one I felt good about. The ones that came after didn’t have that same sponteneity. It is as if this one was given (it really was- first I made a tiny thumbnail of it in oil pastel and then cranked this out in one sitting) as a sort of beacon to paint toward. And everything that came after that for awhile fell short.  I never recovered that same certainty about where it wanted to go until recently.

 

Lemon and plums

This one is quite small and came much later. It was the first one where I started to see the potentials in leaving part of the acylic underpainting showing as in the bottles on the top left and the shadow of the lemon. And it led to the recent bottle series. (But bottles figure in a lot of my work, look at the top half of the top painting in this post for instance).

I can’t say that the composition was intentional, it just sort of grew.  I love the colors. They really do capture what I liked best about my oil pastels, the light airy blues against the rich aubergines and greens. And then that sunny lemon yellow shining. And all of it set off against a foil of burnt sienna.

So these two are more about where I want to go in my heart, rather than the super realistic last bottle one. These have the element of play that I want to enjoy while I’m painting.

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All photos by Rende Zoutewelle

Well, it is an all-consuming project. I do have a life….I think. But I basically wake up and go to sleep thinking about which flowers fit where, color balance, leaf size contrasts etc.

Rende’s photos have captured some of  the atmosphere of the étalage (aka shop or oil painting studio) where I’m working on the instrument. It is a small space – not even enough to walk completely around the case. A new instrument like this needs to be kept at an even temperature and humidity to prevent drying out, so it is on the chilly side – about 15 degrees centigrade. I wrap up well before I go to ‘work’.

Despite that inconvenience, I do like having it all concentrated down here, the previous ones took over my entire attic studio. That meant I really couldn’t do anything else.

Johan said that with the sound board being painted, the instrument is starting to come alive.

As soon as it was brought here, I felt it already had a soul from the amazing amount of love and care that the builder, Matthias, had put into it, and from all the thought that had gone into it even before the case was built. Now that I’m adding my part, there is such a strong visual emphasis, it is hard to remember that

the real soul of this instrument lies in the sound it will make.

Anyway, it is a really cool project to be involved in. I have to slow down to paint each plant and animal portrait as if it were the only one. And one by one they are forming a whole painted songboard.

woodpecker attacks songboard

Definitely connected to the long tradition of songboard painting, and yet also belonging to the 21st century in the choices we’ve made, both visually and in content.  For example, Johan had requests for various flowers and other elements to be included which are personal symbols connected to his own life. For a few people, beside the aesthetic quality, there will be added layers of meaning to the things painted on the instrument.

When it goes back to Germany at the end of the month, Matthias will make the keyboards (there are two) and attach the strings. And then it will be able to sing.

Hanzeclavecimbel progress

January 28, 2012

Classic rosette wreath around sound hole

The above photo is from a previous instrument painted in 2007 (made by H.van Gelder). The ‘rose’ is not yet added, the rose is a metal, usually gold-leafed, emblem of the particular instrument builder.

Because of the labour intensive nature of painting the harpsichord, I’ve not had the time/energy to blog. But I’ve got everything set up and am painting now, so there is a moment to touch in.

The above photo shows a fairly classical treatment of the rosette wreath around the sound- hole of these 17th century Flemish harpsichords.

Johan, my client (and new friend), wanted a slightly different take on it. Indeed, the whole harpsichord is shaping up to be firmly rooted in the best tradition, yet entirely of this age as well.

As I mentioned before, there are at least 3 of us directly involved with the hands-on birthing this instrument (plus there are many more supporters of this project behiind the scenes): Matthias Griewisch, the master builder/creator: Johan Hofmann, accomplished harpsichord player, musician, and teacher; and me, Sarah, the sound board decorator/flower factory.  And each one has their craft and input. The collaboration is fun and inspiring.  (Johan on left, Matthias on right).

Johan and Matthias in Matthias's workshop

As far as we (and music historians) know, this instrument has never been replicated before. It is a world premier and won’t be unveiled until the Peter de Groot music festival in Holland  this July. It has some surprising, unconvenitonal details, so I can only give you tantalizing glimpses of the work process.

Where this is all leading to is that the rosette wreath is done. On this instrument it is flowerless. Johan chose for bay leaf and ivy. Here it is,  Compare it to the one above, it has a whole different feel.

Rosette wreath around the Hanzeclavecimbel

Photos of harpsichords by Rende Zoutewelle. Photo in workshop, Bert Kiewiet